Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2021
I'm going to preface this review with, I don't read a lot of mysteries. More importantly, I know my weaknesses as a reader, such as that plot-driven novels are not usually my favorites (which ties back into the mystery thing). In other words, Point of Danger is probably better than I thought it was, but it still didn't thrill me as I think a mystery should.
There are plenty of elements to like about Point of Danger. The pace and dialogue blaze, but not so fast I was left with a spinning head. I turned pages like wildfire because I had to know, ASAP, what would happen and if (how) Eve would come through the trial. It's been awhile since I encountered a truly interesting read that moves so quickly.
Additionally, I enjoyed Point of Danger's characters. They are on the two-dimensional side, but I can forgive this based on the type of novel it is. In general, Eve and Brent kept my interest as a couple, mostly because their chemistry started early and never let up. I could believe they became unusually close in a short time, and not just because of shared danger or trauma.
The main characters work well on their own too, and possess depth I don't always see in mystery and thriller characters. For instance, I loved Eve's relationship with her sisters, her penchant for DIY projects, and her interest in baking. I sympathized with Brent's terrible upbringing and shortcomings, but without pity. And since he was a detective, I enjoyed seeing him open up emotionally, rather than spending every scene working on Eve's case.
Irene Hannon also crafted some interesting subplots. Meg was my favorite, in an odd way; I wanted to go back to her as much as possible to ensure she would be okay. I also appreciated that Irene delved, at least a little, into Eve's career. I consider it a brave move, especially when she specifically name-dropped Republicans. Most Christian authors won't touch politics, let alone drop party names, so bravo on that alone--and bravo for not making Eve, or her opponents, caricatures. That is, Eve is a political talk show host, but her enemy doesn't come across as "that strawman bad guy from the other party."
All this said, Point of Danger does have some significant issues. They kept me from enjoying the book as much as I wanted to. A huge one was the shifting POVs. In one way I appreciated them, because they gave me a portrait of how a whole community reacts to something like what happened to Eve. But within 50 pages, we've gotten the points of view, if not names and complete backstories, of no less than four characters, plus mysterious text messages from two more. Over 2/3 through, we also get the random POV of a neighbor whose nine-year-old son is, surprise, a key witness! Yeah...shouldn't readers have known about that before page 250?
Also, while Brent and Eve weren't caricatures, some of the characters were. Steve Jackson is the big offender for me; it felt like Irene took the easy path and just said, "This guy's an abusive jerk, end of story." (Which, as an abusive jerk, he's *compelling*, but...) I had similar problems with Doug, Carolyn, and especially Meg. As much as I invested in Meg and her story, it felt like she was written as a pity character--"Oh dear, the poor, fat, plain Jane. Someone needs to rescue her." Worse, Meg reads as a person who would "naturally" be victimized--"It's a shame, but what do you expect from a shy, plain, plus size girl?"
Finally, Irene tends to fall back on telling over showing. That's a genre hazard, but it happens enough to raise red flags. She tends to repeat information--we're told Eve is not a quitter, in those exact words, no less than five times in two or three chapters. She's also in love with However... as well as the elipses in general.
So, is Point of Danger a bad book? No. Again, if you're a mystery buff, you may love it. The next in the series intrigued me, so I'm going to try it, too. This one though, belongs in the "nice, quick, but just okay" annals.